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NC Supreme Court strikes down law merging boards of elections, ethics

The North Carolina Supreme Court has struck down the General Assembly’s law that merged the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission.

The opinion was along party lines, with all Republican justices dissenting. Justice Samuel James “Jimmy” Ervin IV wrote the majority opinion and Chief Justice Mark Martin, joined by Justice Barbara Jackson, and Justice Paul Newby wrote dissenting opinions.

The majority opinion reverses a lower court’s decision to dismiss Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit over the merging of the Boards because they did not have authority to hear the case.

Simply put, the opinion states, the Governor’s complaint does not raise a political question and he does have standing to bring the suit.

It orders the case be reconsidered by the lower court for further proceedings. In the meantime what is now the Bipartisan Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement will have to revert back to two separate agencies and work functions as they did prior to the merge.

Martin and Newby both wrote that they believed the majority opinion constrains the General Assembly’s constitutional authority to determine the structure of state administrative bodies.

“The only separation of powers violation in this case is this Court’s encroachment on the express constitutional power of the General Assembly,” Newby wrote.

You can read all the opinions below.

52PA17-2 [1] by NC Policy Watch [2] on Scribd